Emergency Locator Beacons

Get the most out of your boating experience by being prepared.  Boating in Florida is more fun when you are ready for anything.  Always wear your life jacket and, before your next trip on the water, make sure to purchase, register, and have onboard your vessel an Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB).  You never know when it may save your life and the lives of others.

An EPIRB or PLB is used to alert search and rescue (SAR) agencies in the event of an emergency.  It does this by transmitting a coded message on the 406 MHz distress frequency via satellite and earth stations to the nearest Rescue Coordination Center, which then notifies rescue personnel.  If your EPIRB transmits GPS coordinates, your position can be identified in as little as 2-3 minutes.

An EPIRB is registered to a vessel and may be deployed automatically or manually.  A PLB is registered to a person and may be used on land as well as the water.  PLBs must be manually activated and may need to be held out of the water to function properly even though they are waterproof.

You must register your EPIRB or PLB with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at – it is very easy and only takes a few minutes.  If any of your information changes (phone number, address, emergency contact information, bought a new boat, etc.), you should update your EPIRB/PLB registration.

A national campaign, Saved by the Beacon, led by the National Safe Boating Council, helps recreational boaters understand the importance of emergency locator beacons and how to use them correctly in the case of a boating emergency.  For more information, go to

Governor Scott Recommends Emergency Locator Beacons Adobe PDF


The FWC's Division of Law Enforcement works to provide safe and enjoyable boating for the people of Florida and its visitors through the effective and coordinated management of our waterways. We will strive to work with all stakeholders when developing rules and making statutory recommendations. We will accomplish this by incorporating sound scientific data, reasonable public input and common sense. We will work to formulate the best solutions possible without jeopardizing our natural resources or our freedoms to navigate.

FWC Facts:
Boats 16 feet and longer must have at least one USCG-approved throwable Type IV PFD per passenger - immediately available in case of a fall overboard.

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